News Releases

Diverting $3.8 billion in Department of Defense funds to his border wall is President Trump’s latest move to negatively impact national security priorities in Washington state and nationwide

Senator Murray’s bill, Stopping Executive Overreach on Military Appropriations, would take a first step toward preventing the President’s ability to loot federal funding from the military to pay for his wasteful border wall

ICYMI: ‘Murray introduces bill to 'rescind' emergency border wall funding originally allocated to military projects’ – More HERE from the Kitsap Sun

(Washington, D.C.) – U.S. Senator Patty Murray, joined by her Senate Appropriations Defense Subcommittee Democratic colleagues, loudly objected to the Department of Defense’s short sighted and dangerous transfer of $3.8 billion from the Department of Defense to be used to build part of President Donald Trump’s ineffective wall on the southwest border.  The reprogramming targets the men and women of the National Guard and a variety of programs added by Congress to address shortfalls in critical equipment that were in many cases identified by military leaders. The reprogramming would further compromise military readiness and also have a detrimental effect on Washington state by cutting funding for the P-8A aircraft, which is manufactured and based in the state.

In a letter to Defense Secretary Mark Esper, Senator Murray called out this ongoing scheme as not only divisive, but poisonous to the relationship they seek on national defense matters – which should be above partisanship – and harmful to our national security. This is the third time in less than one year that the Defense Department has used this unilateral process to bypass Congress. 

“We are dismayed that the Department decided to target congressional increases to a vast number of critical programs, from aircraft to ships, including the perennially-underfunded Army National Guard, Air National Guard, and other Reserve Components,” Senator Murray and her colleagues wrote.  “In particular, Congress provided $1.3 billion to the National Guard and Reserve Equipment (NGRE) account after the President’s budget request asked for nothing in this vital appropriation.  The NGRE account has been the lifeline of modernization for the National Guard and Reserves, both for warfighting missions and domestic contingencies. The same can be said of many of the other programs targeted.” 

Senator Murray and her colleagues continued, “The raid on this funding is quite simply an attack on the efforts to ensure our citizen-soldiers are prepared to respond to disasters, both overseas and in nearly every community in all fifty states and four territories.”

In Spring of 2019, the Defense Department transferred $2.5 billion in funding to be used to build part of President Trump’s border wall, and the President later raided $3.6 billion more in military construction funds for his wall as well. In January, it was reported that President Trump intends to raid $7.2 billion in DoD funds this year to pay for his wall, diverting funding from military families and forcing American taxpayers to pay for his vanity project and failed campaign promise. A longtime champion for servicemembers, veterans and military families, last October Senator Murray introduced the Stopping Executive Overreach on Military Appropriations Act (SEOMA) to rescind President Trump’s egregious abuse of executive power and prevent future presidents from exercising similar executive overreach. In addition to the bill’s original co-sponsors, Senator Murray has doubled support for her legislation following President Trump’s most recent cash grab, including adding Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Bob Casey (D-PA), Ron Wyden (D-OR), and chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Jack Reed (D-RI) as co-sponsors.

The full text of Senator Murray’s letter is available here and below:

 

February 13, 2020

 

Dear Secretary Esper:

We write to express our strong opposition to the transfer of $3.8 billion in funds appropriated by Congress to support and benefit our service members, to be used for additional barriers on the Southwest border that were not approved by Congress.

This transfer notification is being made merely weeks after the President signed the defense appropriations bill into law.  As was the case last year, the Department of Defense did not request, and the Congress did not provide, any defense funds for border wall construction.  This repeated maneuver to transfer funds once again is in contrast to the long-established processes involving consultation with the defense oversight committees of Congress on reprogrammings and transfers.  Engaging in this scheme again is not only divisive, but also poisonous to the relationship we seek on national defense matters – which should be above this type of rancor and partisanship.

We are dismayed that the Department decided to target congressional increases to a vast number of critical programs, from aircraft to ships, including the perennially-underfunded Army National Guard, Air National Guard, and other Reserve Components.  In particular, Congress provided $1.3 billion to the National Guard and Reserve Equipment (NGRE) account after the President’s budget request asked for nothing in this vital appropriation.  The NGRE account has been the lifeline of modernization for the National Guard and Reserves, both for warfighting missions and domestic contingencies.  The same can be said of many of the other programs targeted.

The raid on this funding is quite simply an attack on the efforts to ensure our citizen-soldiers are prepared to respond to disasters, both overseas and in nearly every community in all fifty states and four territories.

We are aware that the President has announced plans to divert $7.2 billion from the Pentagon’s budget in this year alone to pay for his ill-advised and wasteful campaign promise. We expect the Administration to continue this assault on the congressional power of the purse in the coming weeks and months, by implementing additional reprogrammings and cancelling more military construction projects without regard to the views of the Congress.  We urge you to bear in mind that Congress has paid for the projects you have cancelled once, and we are under no obligation to pay for them a second time. 

Finally, we are alarmed at the inclusion of Overseas Contingency Operations/Global War on Terrorism funds for additional wall construction.  These accounts were created to separate what was supposed to be temporary war-related spending from the routine operations of our Armed Forces, but critics came to call these accounts little more than a slush fund to evade spending caps.  This raid on these funding lines puts an end to any pretense that the critics were wrong.

Sincerely,

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